Wednesday, 15 February 2012

L.J. Smith fired from writing The Vampire Diaries!

I read the original article for this over at Parafantasy and at first I was shocked. I love The Vampire Diaries and couldn't believe that Harper Collins has fired L.J. Smith from writing the books she's become famous for.

 However, when I looked into it, it seems L.J. Smith was employed to write the books by Harper Collins, she didn't actually come up with the idea herself (I may be wrong about this, so please, if I am, feel free to correct me.) She was employed to write the books 'for hire' which means she doesn't own a single word of the series. Same thing applies to her 'Secret Circle' series.

Basically L.J. Smith was no more than a contracted writer. Even though fans have come to love her work, Harper Collins has simply fired her and got in a new ghost writer.

It must be heartbreaking to know someone else is going to write the characters I'm sure she thinks of as her own. Creating a character is such a personal thing and I'd be amazed if a ghost writer can create the same books with the same voice.

This horrible situation has only done more to cement by belief that independent publishing is the way to go. Perhaps, if a big company offered me a disgusting amount of money, I'd happily hand over my books, but the whole thing just feels so cold, so cut-throat. Yes, it's business, but creating a book is a bit like childbirth; it's long and arduous, and often exhausting. To snatch the 'baby' away from it's 'mother' is simply wrong.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of the series? Will you still be watching the show or reading the books? Or are you an author; would you sell your series knowing that the publisher could fire you from writing it and get in someone new?


  1. It's pretty common to have series contracted out to ghostwriters. I hadn't known how common this practice was in the publishing world, until I met some a couple years back at a writers conference.

    And YES, this makes me even more secure as an indie writer. :)

  2. I've been reading more and more about this situation, Claudia, and I'm shocked at how often ghost writers are used. Perhaps I'm naive, but I honestly had no idea. I've just learned that James Patterson used ghost writers in order to produce a novel every couple of month. He basically writes the story lines and then ships them out to a ghost writer. Personally, when I'm reading a book, I want it to come from the author's heart; from their soul. Using a ghost writer just screams fake.

  3. She got a raw deal. Although she signed the contract but it still sucks to have another person have full ownership of your creation. I felt sad when I read how she really tried and fight to be part of the world she created.

    I read that it's not Harper Collins per se who "fired" her. They own the rights but another party drew up the contract for her and they in turn sold it to HC. Or something to that effect.

  4. This happened to some writers/artists in the comic book industry - who willingly signed off on work for hire agreements back in the 70s and are not entitled to compensation or royalties today. Most notably the Ghost Rider movie(s) I would never sign a work for hire unless it was someone else's established universe - like Star Trek.

  5. Book packaging, and it's very common. The name probably isn't hers, either.
    The publishers will have bought a concept from a book packager, probably with a writer already onboard. They will have the characters, concept, and the plots already set out, and the writer brings the story to life. Not technically a ghost writer. The packager will typically own the copyright, but with a big publisher like Harper Collins, they might have acquired that.
    Nancy Drew was a package, so the practice has been going on a long time.
    Why do writers do it? It's fast, easy to do and the money can be good. It's a paying gig that you can do, get paid for and leave behind.
    no, not me. I have too many ideas of my own!

  6. Yeah, I don't think I could do it either. I just feel sorry for the author. Imagine having ten plus years of writing that you can no longer call your own. From reading bits and pieces from the web, it seems like she didn't really understand what she was getting herself into when she signed the contract. I guess she's made her name now and can go on to do her own thing. I'm sure her fans will follow her!

  7. I ghosted for many years and things worked well, but the industry is changing and the big boys are going down the toilet, so why even get involved with that anymore? At this point in my career, I want my tales to be judged on their own merits and not a name that I actually helped to bolster. And never would I sign away my rights for any more than time enough for a publisher to recoup their expenses. You know the author friendly arrangements we have at Angelic Knight.

    Getting back to your statement about putting your heart and soul into a story and being "fired": I have seen authors accepting awards for novels written by my. Sure, the name on the book was theirs, but it still seems wrong. Personally, I would have gratiously refused the nomination.

    Kinky world in the biz. There are many decisions to make. sometimes, the wrong ones are made.


  8. Oh wow, Blaze, I had no idea you ghosted! And how awful to watch someone else accept an award for something you'd written. I'm not sure I'd have been able to watch. I think sobbing on the couch with a bottle of wine clutching in one hand would have been on the books.

  9. They may have given Miss Smith a general idea of what they wanted, but the Vampire Diaries she wrote were actually based on a story she had already started for an Adult Vampire novel. She used a book that was already in the works idea due to time constraints on the contract. She has stated she was young and naive, trusting her agent to do what was best for her. So basically what ended up happening is she lost an original story she created due to bad advice and inexperience dealing with publishing companies.